Dubbed as the “Emerging City of Tomorrow” by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) during the 2014 World Urban Forum, Cagayan de Oro City is slowly working its way towards becoming the country’s fourth economic center.

CDO is the gateway to Northern Mindanao and is a promising city which functions as the logistics and industrial hub in the region by interconnecting nearby provinces through various road networks. According to a recent draft of the National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) Philippine Development Plan, Metro Cagayan de Oro will be established by 2025. Moreover, with CDO ranking 5th this year in the National Competitive Council’s Top 10 Most Competitive Cities in the country, and being one of the contributors of last year’s increase in the Gross Regional Domestic Rate (GRDP), the city is very well on its way to becoming a “metropolitan center” alongside Manila, Cebu, and Davao.



Towards attaining sustainable urbanization, one of the city’s major problems that hinders this and is demanding immediate action is the urban flooding specifically in the city urban center located in the downtown area. The constant flooding impedes with the city’s economic and social productivity as it affects the city urban center where most of the relevant establishments, such as the Gaisano, Ayala, and SM malls including the national highway, are located.

According to UN-Habitat’s analysis, the “rapid demographic and economic growth in the last 15 years was accompanied by changes in the city’s land use, where forests and agricultural areas made way for residential and commercial projects… If expansion is left unchecked and unplanned, the city is likely to experience a lopsided distribution of settlements.”

As of 2015, CDO’s metropolitan population has already reached 1.376 million, this, along with the city’s 2.54% annual population growth rate and a fixed land area, calls for a pressing plan and action for a sustainable and responsible land use, urban planning, and management.  



The city’s Updated Comprehensive Development Plan (2017-2020), basically envisions “the strategic and prime development hub of the south…” Among the six major programs and projects highlighted, part of it was the Phase 1 of the Planned City Expansion Program (PCEP).

The Phase 1 of PCEP, which will be implemented over the first five years (2018-2022) with the construction of new access roads and widening of existing ones, aims to decongest the city urban center and support the distribution of urban activities from the central business district to the other barangays in a planned and rational manner.

An illustration of the distribution of growth areas for the promotion of urban growth dispersal.



One of the city’s development strategies under the Comprehensive Development Plan is the promotion of urban growth dispersal. With this, five identified growth areas in the city shall be targeted for preparation of master plan and developed in the long term to spread out urban growth and avoid congestion of the existing central business district. As illustrated in the distribution map above, two out of five sites for developments are situated in the uptown area of the city, specifically the West and East Development Uptown Area.

Conceptual map of the Planned City Expansion Program’s Phase 1, located at the 820-hectare area in Barangay Lumbia which is part of the West-uptown Urban Expansion Area.

The West-Uptown Development Area will cover “Barangays Carmen, Canitoan, Lumbia, and Pagatpat. The area is envisioned to be a mixed-use pedestrian-friendly center with a low-density type of development for residential and commercial uses. The Lumbia Airport is recommended to be converted into an industrial area or economic zone and become a major employment provider.” Meanwhile, the East-Uptown Development Area will cover “Barangays Gusa, Indahag, Macasandig, and Camaman-an. This area will have the same function as that of the West-Uptown Development Area with the presence of high-end subdivisions. This area is linked to the other proposed major urban centers through the Pelaez Highway that also connects to the West-Uptown Development Area.”

Uptown, CDO has always been the prime location for a traffic and flood-free living. It used to bring in a strict sense of pride, class, and wealth whenever someone says, “I live in Uptown,” because it is well-recognized by those who can afford to live in upper-class communities. But since the city is now planning to further develop the area to address responsible and sustainable urbanization, Uptown, CDO will soon become more than just a residential township and business center for the upper class; with various government, academic establishments, and private companies now eyeing the place, diversity of all classes shall emerge in no time.

Long before these plans for developing Uptown, CDO occurred, several companies have already recognized the potential of the city, especially in the Uptown area. Among the original companies that took the risk before the competition even took place was Italpinas Development Corporation (IDC), a green real estate developer who boldly put up Primavera Residences, the company’s flagship project, and Primavera City.

“The Philippines has many cities in need of development. These emerging locations represent real opportunities for first-movers that are not afraid to be ahead of the curve,” Architect Romolo Nati, Chairman & CEO of IDC, said in an interview with Oxford Business Group in behalf of its company’s legacy in creating developments in emerging cities outside Metro Manila.

With these plans for the uptown, the city extension area can absorb up to 25%of the city’s growth over the next 30 years. Considering these facts and pending developments, it is safe to say that we are making our way to a full-speed in becoming the fourth economic center in the country. Cagayan de Oro City is an Emerging City to look forward to, indeed.


THEA FRANCESCA TABUDLONG || Content Writer & Marketing Support Assistant




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